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The Department of Health is preparing mitigating measures to address  potential local transmission, after the World Health Organization (WHO) categorized the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as ‘high risk’ globally.

The WHO said there is a total of 43,103 confirmed cases in 24 countries. Local transmission of the disease was also reported in Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Vietnam, South Korea, and Australia.

“We can already see that local transmission is happening in other countries. These developments are compelling reasons to prepare mitigation mechanisms for the possibility of community spread. We are continuously assessing the situation and crafting our own guidelines, based on available evidence, to combat the threat of the COVID-19,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

The DOH has adopted “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” for the name of the disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus. This came after the World Health Organization, in collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, agreed to name the disease in a manner that will minimize cultural, social, and geographical stigma.

In briefing on Wednesday (Feb.12), DOH Spokesperson Undersecretary Eric Domingo said there is no hard evidence that COVID-19 is airborne, nevertheless,  WHO said that countries should be prepared for the possibility of local transmission of the disease.

“We are preparing our hospitals para kung dumami ang cases, we might change our strategies, dapat ready tayo. 'Yung mga country, kapag nagkaroon ng local transmission ay nagchi-change completely ang strategy. Sa atin ngayon, ang gusto natin containment,” Domingo said.

“We are ready in the sense that we have our hospital systems,” he added.

The DOH also gave an update regarding the health condition of Filipinos repatriated from China who arrived Saturday, Feb. 8 in New Clark City, Pampanga.

Accridng to DOH, two repatriates (1-year-old male and 34-year-old female) were brought to Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital due to diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Both tested negative for the 2019-nCoV and will be sent back to New Clark City to complete the 14-day quarantine period.

“We are checking on our repatriates twice a day to ensure that they are properly being cared for, and we will be providing sim and cell cards for those who don’t have mobile access within the facility. Daily activities are organized to keep them busy and lessen their boredom. We are likewise facilitating psychosocial processing to ensure their mental well-being,” Duque assured.

Updates on Patients Under Investigation

As of 12NN Wednesday, February 12, there are 238 PUI cases currently admitted in various health facilities, while 165 PUIs have been discharged. Meanwhile, 208 PUIs have tested negative and 3 tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus. There are 197 cases pending test results from RITM.

Updates on Contact Tracing

As of February 12, the Epidemiology Bureau, together with the PNP-CIDG, has identified all 455 contacts of the first and second cases of COVID-19. Of the 455 contacts, 277 (61%) have been interviewed and 44 contacts found to be symptomatic have been admitted as PUIs.

On the third confirmed case, a total of 246 (34%) out of 731 contacts were traced, including co-passengers and individual contacts from hotels and hospitals. Currently, 164 (22%) contacts have been interviewed, of which 149 were placed on home quarantine and 15 symptomatic contacts have been categorized as PUIs and admitted for isolation and monitoring.

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